Thoughts on the Bible-Minded Cities Report

2015 Bible-Minded Cities

The Barna Group released a report on “Bible-Minded” cities. The report ranked the “Bible-mindedness” of individuals in the 100 largest media markets in the United States. According to the criteria of the Barna Group, an individual is “Bible-minded” based on two qualifications:

  1. They “report reading the Bible in a typical week.”
  2. They “strongly assert the Bible is accurate in the principles it teaches.”

It is interesting to read reports like this one. Regardless of how “Bible-minded” the cities are in which we live, there are some points we should consider.

Christians Must Be Bible-Minded

If interviewed for this report, Christians ought to qualify as “Bible-minded.” Paul told Timothy, “Be diligent (study, KJV) to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). In his first epistle, the apostle told the young evangelist, “Give attendance to reading” (1 Timothy 4:13, KJV). Christians must read their Bible regularly (and it ought to be more than the once-a-week minimum criteria of the survey). Furthermore, we must “strongly assert the Bible is accurate.” The psalmist wrote, “The sum of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting” (Psalm 119:160).

Being Bible-Minded Does Not Make One a Christian

According to the report, over half of the adults in the Birmingham/Anniston/Tuscaloosa, Alabama area are “Bible-minded.” However, the majority of adults in those cities are not Christians (at least not in the Scriptural sense). It is not enough to read the Bible and believe it is true. James said, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22). Later in the same letter, James wrote, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24). One becomes a Christian today in the same way that the “three thousand souls” did on the day of Pentecost – believing in Christ, repenting of sin, and being baptized into Christ (Acts 2:37-41; cf. Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21). Sadly, most “Bible-minded” people have not submitted to the Lord’s plan of salvation.

Bible-Mindedness is a Good Foundation

If we live in an area with more “Bible-minded” people, we may be encouraged with the idea that it might be easier to convert people to Christ. It is certainly true that knowledge of God’s word is a good foundation. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Paul said to Timothy, “From childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). There is certainly potential to lead one to Christ if they are already “Bible-minded.” However, consider the next point.

Bible-Mindedness is Not Always an Advantage

While it is true that being “Bible-minded” can potentially lead one to obey the gospel, that does not always happen. Often, those who are “Bible-minded” know the Bible just enough and are religious just enough to soothe their conscience and lull themselves into thinking that they have no need to change. Paul described the Old Law as a “tutor to lead us to Christ” (Galatians 3:24). This provided the Jews of the first century with a great foundation – “they were entrusted with the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2). Many today are like Paul’s Jewish brethren: “I testify that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:2-4). The New Testament records many Gentiles – who did not have the advantage of a foundation of knowledge in God’s law like the Jews had – obeying the gospel (Acts 10:24-48; 11:20-21; 13:44-49; 14:1; 16:30-34; 17:2-4). Many today are just “Bible-minded” enough to reject the pure, simple gospel of Christ.

Christians Can Come From Anywhere

It is understood, even without seeing this report, that certain parts of the country have higher percentages of “Bible-minded” people and Christians than others. However, God shows no partiality. It does not matter where in the country one resides. Peter said, “The man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him” (Acts 10:35). Regardless of one’s background, everyone who has “faith” and has been “baptized into Christ” is “one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-28). Despite the wickedness that was prevalent in the city of Corinth, the Lord told Paul, “Go on speaking and do not be silent…for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10). The seed of God’s word will grow in “an honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15), no matter how “Bible-minded” or Biblically illiterate the general population might be.

Conclusion

Regardless of the supposed “Bible-mindedness” of the people around us, Christians must work to reach others with the gospel. Each situation will have its own unique challenges; but we must plant and water and allow God, through His word, to give the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6).


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